Hands raised with question marks above them.

With graduation just two weeks away, I had originally planned to write this blog with the theme of “where I’m from, where I am and where I’m going.” I was excited about this idea because I think after any significant milestone in your life, it’s important to look back on how your experiences have changed you, and what that will mean for your future.

Yet I don’t feel very much like I’m at a milestone, primarily because I will be coming back to UT Austin in July to earn a master’s degree. Since most people in the freshman class I started with in 2013 will still be around next year, I won’t have to say my sad goodbyes. Because of other commitments and a general disinterest in pomp and circumstance (the song as well as the literal meaning), I will not be attending my graduation ceremony. It seems to me right now that I will simply be walking across the street to McCombs School of Business and taking a slightly different set of classes next semester (which are still computationally-oriented).

But a lot of this comes from the feeling that I already know everything. I feel like I already know what I will learn at McCombs because I have done so much research to determine if the program I will join is right for me. I feel like I already know what graduate school is like because I have seen and talked to so many graduate students during my time as an undergraduate. I feel like I don’t have to look up any new restaurants, or find any new extracurricular activities to participate in, because I have already established my life here and I know what it is like to live in Austin. But having that down on paper points out to me that I am almost certainly wrong.

Next year I will be adjusting to an entirely different dynamic in the business school. My free tech shirts will probably have be moved to the back of my closet and my ability to communicate will likely be much more heavily scrutinized. I’ll be adjusting to curriculum that is designed to serve clients, and not simply to demonstrate how things work for their own sake.

I’ll be adjusting to real pressure when it comes to recruiting. Instead of attending events sponsored by companies at the Gates Dell Complex because I want to pet the free puppies they bring (yes, this actually happened today), I’ll be showing up with my resume in hand and some serious questions about what it would be like to spend the next many years of my life working alongside of the people at a given organization.

And, above all, I’ll be adjusting to things I don’t even know I need to adjust to yet. In this sense, I think the changes in my life due to graduation will become more clear to me once they are actually in place.

Right now, I think it’s important to remind myself that I did not choose to attend college so that it would provide me with “everything I ever needed to know.” This would never be possible. Instead, I earned my degree because I thought it would make me better equipped to tackle new challenges and even make progress on questions that I may never be able to fully answer. Earning my degree at UT is a great accomplishment, but past accomplishment alone will not solve future challenges. These require serious attention to be allocated to the things unknown to me and I will do my very best to make this a part of my life as I move forward.

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